Friday, October 3, 2014

Bad linguistics

Gawker is holding a tournament right now to determine the "ugliest" accent in America.

Josef Fruehwald, a linguist and lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, has some issues with the tournament.  Basically, he feels it's helping to spread linguistic discrimination, since the so-called "ugly" accents tend to be associated with people from the working class.  Read his thoughts here:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Deadspin getting sued

According to Law360:
A baseball broadcaster slapped MLB Network Inc. and Gawker Media Group Inc. with a $2.3 million lawsuit in New Jersey state court Wednesday, saying he was wrongly terminated after Gawker-owned erroneously reported he unleashed a profanity-laced tired while coaching his son’s Little League team. 
The suit by former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams says he neither referred to a child with derogatory language nor ordered one of the 10-year-olds on his son's team to hit the opposing pitcher with a beanball at a May tournament, as Deadspin reported.
More details here: 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Chris Kluwe tweets mean stuff

I was browsing Chris Kluwe's twitter stream yesterday.  He was complaining about Tony Dungy, cracking jokes, calling him a homophobe, etc... and then, while replying to another Twitter user, Kluwe wrote:

And that's such a stark thing to tweet, I just felt the need to mention it.

I remember hearing that Tony Dungy's son had died back in 2005, but didn't know the son was homosexual or that he'd been disowned by his father.  So I did a Google search, and there weren't any official news sources which mentioned Dungy's son was gay.  All the speculation about it came from blog posts or message boards, and in fact one guy from TheStraightDope summed up my own findings:
Every single rumor I can find that James was gay was written by a third party who never met the kid and who had a prior hatred for Tony over his religious activism.  Since the person who found the body was his girlfriend, (and 18 seems a bit young for a beard, although not impossible), I'm going to hold off joining in condemnation over a rumor that seems to have no basis beyond the hatred of one group for another.
According to a USA Today article, James Dungy's body was discovered by Antoinette Anderson. When she called 911, she referred to him as her boyfriend:
"I think my boyfriend's dead," an anguished Anderson told an emergency dispatcher. "I think he tried to hang himself or something."
It may be possible that James was bisexual.  Or maybe the girl who called 911 misrepresented their relationship.

Or perhaps Chris Kluwe is a little bit unhinged and he's willing to spread these sorts of rumors to spite his enemies.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Murder and puppies

Sandy Hingston, writing for Philadelphia Magazine, thinks the commenters on Jezebel are "batshit." She has a point:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fun with Viddler, part 2

This is what happens when multiple Gawker blogs all cover the same topic.

Back in March, Nancy Grace was a guest on Good Morning America to discuss the Oscar Pistorius trial.  For some reason, she began braying about pornography, and everyone in the room kind of ignored her.

Timothy Burke at Deadspin took some of the broadcast footage and uploaded it using the Viddler platform.  The clip then made its way onto YouTube, and from there it was shared by various websites.  Gawker and Jezebel bloggers both gave their takes, but instead of using the Viddler clip, they simply embedded the YouTube version.  This became a problem when Gawker filed a copyright notice and had the clip taken off YouTube, resulting in a bizarre error message:

Yes, Gawker Media managed to block their own video from being seen on Gawker!

Here's the part that confuses me, though:  I don't understand why Gawker would be the ones to claim copyright over this video, rather than ABC.  There's a slight jump cut in Burke's clip, but it's not as though he manipulated the audio or added music or anything.  How do you claim copyright over something which you took from somebody else?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fun with Viddler

Yesterday, Keith Olbermann devoted a segment on his show to the NFL's handling of the Ray Rice situation.  His belief is that any official involved in the "cover-up" should resign immediately.

Naturally, this clip wound up on Deadspin.  What caught my attention, though, was that Deadspin edited the post during the evening.  I think they originally uploaded the Olbermann clip using Viddler, then swapped it out.

Viddler is a video hosting platform, and Deadspin often uses it to embed footage which has recently aired on television.  It's a way to upload a video quickly without waiting for the copyright holder to provide an "official" version of the same clip.  This practice of swiping TV footage has resulted in at least one lawsuit for Deadspin:  They were sued last year by Dr. Phil's production company for uploading footage from his show before it could air in a majority of TV markets.

With regards to the Olbermann clip, I'm fairly certain Deadspin uploaded the clip using their Viddler platform, then replaced it with a YouTube clip once that became available.  I'm not saying this action violated copyright law.  I'm not even saying Keith Olbermann or the people working on his show would give a crap.  It just seems somewhat sketchy, especially in light of the aforementioned lawsuit.

Here are notes I made to show the chain of events.

The Olbermann YouTube channel uploaded the segment at approximately 6:13 P.M., eastern time. Deadspin managed to embed the segment with the Viddler platform at 5:27 P.M.  The show itself originally aired on ESPN 2 at 5:00 P.M..

I checked the Deadspin RSS feed a bit before 7 P.M., and it showed the Olbermann clip as formatted with the Viddler platform.  (See below.)  The length of that video was 6 minutes, 36 seconds.  The Deadspin RSS feed tends to run on a bit of a delay, and I expected it would later show the clip formatted with the YouTube player.  Sure enough, when I checked the RSS feed a couple minutes later, the Viddler version was gone, and in its place was the YouTube version.  (See below.)  The length of that version is 5 minutes, 24 seconds.

Here's a comparison of how the story looked on the RSS feed before and after 7 P.M.

Version 1 (Viddler):

Version 2 (YouTube):

If you can upload a segment from a TV show an hour before your competitors, it gives you an advantage in terms of going viral.  Your article will have a better chance of getting shared on Twitter, Facebook, Fark, etc...  It reminds me of how a stock trader might take advantage of a faster technology to get a leg-up on his competitors.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Deadspin way, part 4

1.)  Get a tip from a guy named "Michael" who claims he saw 7'3 NBA player Hasheem Thabeet flying uncomfortably in coach class.
2.)  Post the supposed photos of Hasheem without bothering to confirm the details of Michael's story.
3.)  Collect 128,000 pageviews.
4.)  Reveal two days later in an update that it wasn't actually Hasheem in the photos.
5.)  Try to do better the next time.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Deadspin way, part 3

1.)  Get a tip from a football fan named "Tom" who claims his friend received a trash-talking letter from Mark Richt.
2.)  Share the image of a letter and write your article as though the whole situation is legitimate.
3.)  Collect 78,000 pageviews.
4.)  Update your story when Mark Richt calls the letter fake.
5.)  Try to do better the next time.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Deadspin way, part 2

1.)  Post a picture of a public billboard with the word "dick" on it.
2.)  Collect 130,000 pageviews.
3.)  Reveal in an update that the picture of the billboard was actually a photoshop.
4.)  Try to do better the next time.

But wait!  Let's gets a word from the man who created the photoshop.  Was he at least impressed by the coverage his photo received?


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Kotaku under scrutiny

A lot of conspiracy theories have been floating around these past few weeks regarding Kotaku and gaming journalism in general.  Some of the theories seem a bit thin.  Other theories involve aspects of people's personal lives which aren't relevant to gaming journalism.  However there was at least one accusation which proved to have substance, and that involved Kotaku's Patricia Hernandez.    

Talking Ship has a good recap, titled "Patricia Hernandez Covered Her Friend's Games, And Didn't Disclose It," in which they lay out a timeline showing the relationship between Hernandez and a game developer named Anna Anthropy.  Online conversations had indicated the two were living together during the summer of 2012.  Hernandez later promoted Anna's games in several posts on Kotaku without disclosing that they were friends

At least four of Hernandez's posts have been updated with the following note:
(Update: full disclosure... the game's creator, Anna Anthropy, was housemates with me and a mutual friend in the summer of 2012.)"
fifth post, from December of 2012, hasn't yet received an update, although I think it should.

Shortly after that first allegation surfaced, people started saying Hernandez had promoted games for another friend named Christine Love without disclosing their relationship.  As a results, two more of Hernandez's posts were updated with the following note:
(Update: full disclosure...Love and I are friends.)
These updates are in accordance with a pledge made by Stephen Totilo to make any connections between writers and subjects more clear in the future:
We appreciate healthy skepticism from critics and have looked into—and discussed internally—concerns. We agree on the need to ensure that, on the occasion where there is a personal connection between a writer and a developer, it's mentioned. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

B.S. math, part 2

Here's another case of "One step forward, many steps back," courtesy of David Christopher Bell.

In a June edition of B.S. stories, Bell talked about a Chinese man who supposedly got trapped in South Korea after his passport was defaced by his 4-year-old son.  Lots of news sites posted a photo of the passport, although it turns out the scribble marks were added digitally.  The Chinese Embassy in Seoul eventually had to state for the record that this story was bogus.

Let's see how Gawker Media fared as a whole:

Casey Chan at Gizmodo reported the story as true.  He got 223,200 pageviews.
Gabrielle Bluestone at Gawker reported the story as true.  She got 80,100 pageviews.
Mark Shrayber at Jezebel reported the story as true.  He got 30,000 pageviews. 
Brian Ashcraft at Kotaku was the only person to report the story was fake.  He got  62,000 pageviews.

Adding those numbers up, you've got roughly 330,000 Gawker readers who were fed the hoax, and 62,000 Gawker readers who were given the truth.

That's over a 5:1 ratio!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

B.S. math

My favorite writer at Cracked is a guy named David Christopher Bell.  About once a week, he writes a column about "B.S. stories" that tricked people on the internet.  This column is great, because he invariably mentions stories and hoaxes that were picked up by Gawker.  

Even in cases when one Gawker writer tries to debunk a B.S. story, you can often locate a second writer who helped spread it in the first place.  For example, today Bell mentioned the "B.S. story" about a dumb criminal who supposedly asked Siri where to hide his roommate's dead body. The misunderstanding came from a joke screenshot that had been found on the defendant's phone. In fact, the phone in question didn't even have Siri installed.

Jay Hathaway at Gawker reported the story was fake.  His post has 35,700 pageviews.
Eric Limer at Gizmodo, however, ran the original story like a fool.  His post has 71,000 pageviews.

This is what I consider a case of: "One step forward, two steps back."

To be fair, Limer did eventually update his post and acknowledge the story was false.  It just took him several hours.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Haters gonna hate

The chaps at Ordinary Times have taken a small stand against Gawker's brand of "chattering class bullshit."

Here's what happened:  Leah Finnegan (who was hired recently because she "hates the right people") decided to spit some of her hate juice on Max Fisher over at Vox.  Fisher had written a satirical column about how the media reports on foreign conflicts, and Leah thought this column absolutely sucked.

And so a writer at Ordinary Times looked over the whole situation and basically said: 'What's the big deal?  Max's column wasn't bad.'  He also elaborated on the feud that's apparently brewing between Gawker and Vox Media.

It's always useful to have dissenting voices, because you really don't want the internet to dissolve into a giant Asch conformity experiment.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ladies leaving Gawker

Myles Tanzer tweeted the news that Rachel Rosenfelt is leaving Gawker.  She was hired in June to be their first-ever Executive Producer.  Now they'll have to find somebody else!  

Tanzer also said Lindy West is departing Jezebel.

Nicholas Jackson, meanwhile, made the observation that Playboy had "moved off of Kinja" and launched their own website.  This might just be speculation, though, because I couldn't find any official announcement saying Playboy had disassociated from Kinja.  That said, Playboy revamped their website this week to make it more Facebook-friendly, and their "SFW" Kinja page hasn't posted anything since June 25th.    

Friday, August 15, 2014

Popehat offers advice

Ken White (aka Popehat) discusses why it's maybe not a good idea for bosses to sit idly by when their female employees are dealing with harassment.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sam Biddle: Disingenuous?

Wired has a long profile about Stewart Butterfield, the man behind Flickr and the new messaging service Slack.

It's available to read here:

Of course, what caught my attention is when Butterfield let loose a short complaint about Valleywag, and I think he does a pretty good job of summarizing Sam Biddle's approach to journalism:  
“I fucking hate Valleywag,” he says, finishing his macchiato. As he puts his cup down, he reels that back in a bit, recalling a pleasant interview with one of its writers. “Or at least I hate Sam Biddle.” Sam Biddle, for those of you who have yet to be personally insulted by him, is Gawker’s Valleywag editor, tasked with covering the technology industry and its foibles.
Valleywag gleefully channels the hostility and contempt people have toward tech-types in San Francisco and New York right now. We have to stop Google! Have you seen what Facebook is doing now? Tech bros are the new investment bankers: greedy, clueless, chauvinistic, unforgivably rich. Valleywag delights in popping the industry’s self-inflated balloons.
The problem, Stewart says, is that Sam can be disingenuous in a manner that borders on lying. He cites a Valleywag story about Ben Horowitz—an old friend of Butterfield’s whose firm is an investor in Slack. In the story, titled “Prominent Venture Capitalist Discovers Black People,” Sam cast Horowitz, who is married to a black woman, in a light that made him look racially insensitive. Stewart insists that Horowitz’s words carried the exact opposite intent, and Sam had to know it. (Sam points out that the post in question was based on a quote from Horowitz that initially appeared in The New Yorker, which it changed after publication. “I absolutely did not deliberately misinterpret or misconstrue Ben Horowitz’ words,” Sam says via instant message.)
I tried to figure out which Valleywag journalist Butterfield might've had a "pleasant interview" with, but so far the site hasn't mentioned his name.  (It was probably Nitasha Tiku, though.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A world without comments?

Nicholas Jackson offers a novel solution to Gawker's current struggle with their comments:  KILL THEM ALL!

It won't happen.  It would never happen.  But it's an interesting thought nonetheless.

In Jackson's utopia, there would still be space for sites like Twitter and Tumblr and Reddit.  However most "comments," such as we're accustomed to seeing at the ends of articles, would be replaced by entries on personal blogs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Update regarding Jezebel's "rape gifs" problem

Earlier today, Joel Johnson announced Gawker was disabling all image uploads in their comments. This change would be effective for the entire Kinja platform.  The announcement was made after the porn and rape gifs started to spread to other Gawker blogs, such as io9.

This sounds like an effective stop-gap measure.  However, some commenters felt it was a little weird that the issue was solved so quickly.  In other words, the Gawker tech team could have prevented Jezebel's writers from being traumatized, yet they waited until:

A.)  Jezebel aired the matter publicly, and
B.)  The gifs spread to other sites besides Jezebel

That's the perception, at least.  I'm not in Hungary, and I'm not part of the tech team.  Maybe it took them an entire month to develop that stop-gap measure.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Jezebel staffers mad at bosses for not addressing "rape gif" problem

Get Off My Internets has the recap.  And you can be sure the top guys at Gawker Media, like Joel Johnson, are now looking into it!  They weren't really looking into it before, but now they'll get together and...look into it.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Scocca knows smarm.  Scocca knows snark.
But does Scocca know...silly British humor?  No he does not.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jay Hathaway suspended over plagiarism charge

Gawker blogger Jay Hathaway was suspended for one week, after it was alleged his post about a Florida "porn diva" had copied the structure from a Miami New Times article.

In the post last week, Hathaway gave attribution to both the Miami Herald and the Daily Dot, but not to the Miami New Times.

What's impressive is that Hathaway actually made the effort to read three different news sources. Manufacturing a Gawker post usually means taking a 350-word AP article, trimming it to 150 words, and inserting a snarky headline.  But actually using three sources?  Damn.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cook out

John Cook, the editor-in-chief of Gawker, is leaving for First Look Media:

To mark the occasion, here's one of the few exchanges I ever had with him:

For the record, he actually answered my question in a separate tweet, so he wasn't avoiding it.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dr. Phil follow-up

I found more info regarding Deadspin's removal of the Dr. Phil footage.

On Thursday, reported that Peteski Productions had settled their copyright infringement
suit against Gawker Media:
“The case settled to the mutual satisfaction of the parties,” said Jackson Walker partner Chip Babcock, who represents Peteski.
Details of the settlement are confidential.  Neither Babcock nor Gawker's attorneys provided further comment to

Friday, March 7, 2014

Deadspin removes Dr. Phil footage

Last May, Dr. Phil's production company, Peteski Productions, sued Gawker Media over copyright infringement.  The issue arose after Dr. Phil obtained an exclusive interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man behind the Lennay Kekua catfishing hoax.  The interview spanned two episodes of Dr. Phil, and the first episode ended with a cliffhanger as Ronaiah finally prepared to speak in Lennay's voice for the camera.

Deadspin obtained footage of the second episode before it aired in most of the country, and at 10:29 A.M. they posted a clip of Ronaiah performing Lennay's voice.  Peteski Productions claimed that Deadspin's actions resulted in lower ratings for the episode.  According to Law360:
"Peteski Productions has asked to be awarded any profits Deadspin recouped from publishing its video, statutory damages for willful copyright infringement, pre- and post-judgment interest, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. It also asked the court to issue an injunction requiring Deadspin to remove the video from its website."
I've googled this case a few times since May but never learned anything new.  Today, I checked the Deadspin post in question to see if the footage was still up.  Lo and behold, it was gone!  At the end of the first paragraph there's a note which reads:  "[Update, March 3, 2014: The video has been removed.]"

That looks like a good sign for Dr. Phil!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Copyright infringement?

A while back, I noticed Gawker had embedded the entire pilot episode of The Newsroom onto their site using the hosting platform Viddler.  And I wonder:  Is that technically a copyright violation?

When The Newsroom premiered in June of 2012, HBO temporarily made the pilot available via YouTube and via the HBO player.  Mashable said the episode would only be available until July 23rd. So now, if you follow one of those original links to YouTube, you'll be greeted with a message saying: "This video is private."  Likewise, if you go to a website that had embedded the HBO player, you'll see a message saying: "We're sorry.  This video is no longer available."

Gawker must have seen the benefit in embedding the video using their alternate platform.  They originally tried embedding the video using YouTube, but several commenters complained that they were getting an error message saying: "Embedding disabled by request."  So Gawker took down the YouTube version, and replaced it with the Viddler version, and that's the version you can see today.

My impression is that HBO did not want the pilot to be freely available beyond July 23rd.  The situation doesn't seem too different from what Hulu regularly does, when you're allowed to watch the most-recent episodes of a TV show for free, but need a Hulu+ subscription to watch those same episodes when a month has passed.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Writing off Jezebel

Yesterday, I linked to a blogger who said she was quitting Jezebel following the Lena Dunham incident.

(Quick recap:  The website had offered a $10,000 bounty for the original photos from Dunham's Vogue photoshoot.  Jezebel got the photos and posted them, and it turned out the photos weren't really altered to any significant degree.)

Another person writing off Jezebel is Lena Dunham herself.  She recently sat down for an hour-long chat with Bill Simmons, and they touch on the Jezebel incident around the 52-minute mark. Dunham says it's hard to give a website the benefit of the doubt after they've personally attacked you.  She also feels Jezebel erred by not acknowledging, after getting the Vogue photos, that the changes to them were minimal.

It's a fun interview overall, and if you watch the whole thing you'll probably learn something new about Macaulay Culkin, too!  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Drew guarantee

There's an old rule in professional wrestling:  If a babyface "guarantees" something, then you know it will come true.  If John Cena says, "I guarantee I'll win the WWE title at Wrestlemania," then you already know the result.

Drew Magary is like the opposite of a babyface.  Take this line from his Oscar "haters guide" last week, when he wrote about all of the Best Picture nominees:
"12 Years A Slave: This movie isn't winning Best Picture. I can guarantee it. And you know why I can guarantee it? Because people are cowards...."
Of course, 12 Years A Slave won the award for Best Picture last night.  It was the favorite to win, as well, at least according to this survey put out by

Previously, Drew Magary had predicted icy death for everyone attending the Super Bowl in the New York area.  He wrote post after post about how the weather was going to suck, and then the weather turned out to be a non-factor.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Offshore, Inc.

There's more news regarding the Quentin Tarantino lawsuit.  According to TheWrap, "Gawker Media Group, Inc...has been dismissed without prejudice from Quentin Tarantino’s copyright lawsuit after it argued the court does not have jurisdiction over the Cayman Islands-based corporation."

However, that apparently still leaves Gawker Media LLC, Gawker Entertainment, and 10 other John Does as defendants in the case.  

I'm not 100% sure what the distinctions are between GMGI, Gawker Media LLC, and Gawker Entertainment.  (I think GMGI is the parent company of the other two.)  

According to a Hollywood Reporter article, "Gawker Entertainment LLC" was dissolved last year.  The same article states that neither "Gawker Media" nor "Gawker Entertainment" were contesting personal jurisdiction in this lawsuit.

So, in sorting out all of these entity names, we have:
1.)  Gawker Media Group, Inc (GMGI)
2.)  Gawker Media
3.)  Gawker Media, LLC
4.)  Gawker Entertainment
5.)  Gawker Entertainment, LLC

(Maybe that's a little redundant, but I get confused whenever entities have similar names.)  

I think the main defendant from this point forward would be Gawker Media LLC.  In GMGI's motion to dismiss, it was noted that "Gawker Media LLC" had until March 10th to respond to the plaintiff's complaint.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

TV shows over time

What ever happened to Gizmodo: The Gadget Testers?  There was a premiere episode on BBC America last spring, and then nothing.

You can watch a promo for it below.  The show featured lots of pasty guys in sunglasses, and one girl who was cackling maniacally for some strange reason.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tarantino is pissed

Did you hear?  Quentin Tarantino is suing Gawker over contributory copyright infringement.

The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Monday, January 27, 2014

John Cook: A scumbag?

The people at Twitchy are not fans of John Cook.  On Friday, they referred to him as a scumbag, a douchebag, and a sleazy jerk, all because he'd written a vulgar tweet aimed at NRO writer Kathryn Lopez.  Of course, they weren't the only ones claiming to be offended.

Twitchy likes to act as a social-media shaming site, and their views tend to be conservative.  Last November, they criticized Erin Gloria Ryan when she wrote an insensitive tweet following the death of actor Paul Walker.  She had tweeted out: "Why couldn't it be Scott Walker?"

Thursday, January 23, 2014